My husband quit smoking recently. How long should we wait to get life insurance on him?

Asked by Sarah

3 Answers

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Answered by Bradford Creger, MoneyTips ContributorPRO+ in Pasadena, CA
Sarah,
The correct answer is that you shouldn’t wait to get life insurance on your husband if the insurance is actually needed. Yes, you CAN wait a bit and get better rates at a later date, but the real question is “do you need the insurance?” If the answer is yes, get it now.

Why? If your husband dies between now and when you get around to obtaining the insurance you needed, that would be considered a BIG mistake. On the other hand, if you buy the life insurance now and end up paying a little extra for a year or so… paying that little extra would be considered a little mistake. The little “mistake” is the difference between what you will pay for him based on normal premiums and the premiums based on him being a smoker for just the period of time that is needed to pass before the insurance company will consider dropping the rates.

People often ask, are the insurance companies obligated to drop my rates if I stop smoking? The correct answer is NO. BUT, the insurance companies all know that once your husband stops smoking he would qualify for non-smoker rates and if they don’t drop the extra costs, your husband will take his business to another insurance company. Please understand that they would prefer to keep him once they have the insurance in-force. If he truly qualifies as a non-smoker, he shouldn’t have any problems getting the lower rates approved.

So what are the other factors which lead me to tell you to buy the insurance now? One, many smokers who quit tend to gain a little weight. If this happens to your husband he may end up in a lesser rating category then he could be in now. In other words the “smoker status” is distinct from the other underwriting classification. He could be a Preferred Smoker now, and in a year from now he might be a Standard Non-Smoker because he gained a little weight. The Standard rates will not be changed without medical underwriting. However, the “smoker” surcharge can be eliminated without medical underwriting. So he could be a Preferred Smoker now, and a Preferred Non-Smoker after the appropriate length of time has passed. It’s far easier to drop the smoker surcharge than it is to improve from Standard to Preferred. If your husband has other health issues, in addition to having recently stopped smoking, then I would really urge you to get him insured now before there any adverse changes in his health.

How long do you need to wait to get the smoker status dropped? Many insurance companies will consider dropping the smoker status after only one year of being a non-smoker. Other insurance companies require a longer period of time to pass before you can be considered a non-smoker.

Whether you buy the insurance now or have decided to wait, the length of time each insurance company will require your husband to be “smoke free” to be a non-smoker is the same. You might as well get the coverage you need at a slight increase in cost for the first year or so and make sure your husband sticks with his decision to quit and then go get the smoker surcharge dropped.

Interestingly, if your husband occasionally smokes cigars, this may not be considered “smoking” by some insurance companies. The same holds true for occasionally smoking marijuana. Many insurance companies no longer consider this the same as they once did. Long ago, an occasional cigar meant a smoker rate and occasionally smoking marijuana was a reason for an automatic decline. Today, many companies do not care about the occasional use of either cigars or marijuana. Cigarette smoking or frequent use of either of these other two will most likely result in smoker rates.

I hope this helps. I would be happy to answer any follow up questions you may have regarding working around this change in your husband’s smoking habits.
Brad
| 11.05.15 @ 22:35
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$commenter.renderDisplayableName() — {comment} | 12.04.16 @ 10:36
Answered by Benjamin Rosky, Insurance Agent in Phoenix, AZ
You can always buy your life insurance now, and then request a lower (non-tobacco) rate after 12 months tobacco free. | 11.06.15 @ 00:46
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$commenter.renderDisplayableName() — {comment} | 12.04.16 @ 10:36
Answered by Larry Gilmore, Insurance Agent in Marysville, WA
If you have no coverage now, get some. Consider the future lower cost to be incentive to quit. If you have no coverage look for companies that give you nonsmoker the soonest. The option to reduce cost for nonsmoker varies from 1 year to 3 years depending on the company. Look for one that gets you to nonsmoking as quick as possible. Also tell your doctor when you're quitting as they will make it part of your medical history and when you apply for nonsmoker status you will have that on record. | 03.05.16 @ 02:38
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$commenter.renderDisplayableName() — {comment} | 12.04.16 @ 10:36
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